Jan. 24, 2008
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
'Lost Boy of Sudan' SRU graduate becomes American citizen
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Gabriel Ajang, a May graduate of Slippery Rock University and "Lost Boys of Sudan" survivor, has become an American citizen. He took the oath of allegiance during a naturalization ceremony last week in Pittsburgh - seven years after arriving in the U.S. following unbelievable hardship in his native country.
"It was exciting and uplifting to become part of this community," said Ajang, who graduated in May with a degree in community health. "They gave me an American flag and a certificate saying I am an American citizen," he said.
Ajang works at Community Passage, a transitional housing facility for the mentally ill in suburban Pittsburgh.
The Lost Boys of Sudan are a group of refugees who walked across Sudan to Ethiopia in the 1980s to escape the violence of a civil war. Ajang began his passage in 1987 and spent many years in Ethiopia before arriving in Pittsburgh in 2001.
Although his parents and many friends were killed during the ethnic conflict, Ajang said he hopes to visit Sudan someday. "I still have brothers and sisters there," he said.
Wendy Stuhldreher, SRU health and safety professor and Ajang's former academic adviser, was on hand for the naturalization ceremony.
"I am proud of him, and it was an honor to witness," she said.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.